Spies tried to sabotage Is­rael’s air force

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

EF­FORTS BY the in­fant Is­raeli army to build an air force were de­lib­er­ately un­der­mined by Bri­tish agents and diplo­mats dur­ing a cease­fire bro­kered by the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil mid­way through the 1948 War of In­de­pen­dence.

Se­cret files held by the Na­tional Archives in Kew show that Bri­tish of­fi­cials passed on to the UN me­di­a­tor of the four-week long truce, Count Folke Ber­nadotte, re­ports of air­craft pressed into ser­vice by Jewish forces.

A Bri­tish agent was or­dered by his su­pe­ri­ors in Lon­don to “un­der­line orally” to Ber­nadotte — who was as­sas­si­nated in Jerusalem by Stern Gang gun­men in Septem­ber 1948 — that Jewish ef­forts to build an air force con­sti­tuted “a vi­o­la­tion of the truce”.

They also con­sti­tuted a “very con­sid­er­able re­ver­sal of the rel­a­tive bal­ance of strength” in the war, con­tin­ued the mes­sage.

The Bri­tish said they were sure that re­ports of Jewish air power were ac­cu­rate. Not only did they come through intelligence sur­veil­lance of Jewish air bases in Pales­tine but were also backed by re­ports from the RAF. The back­bone of the Jewish air force was 13 Messer­schmitt 109 fighter planes. In ad­di­tion, it had Cur­tis Com­mando trans­port air­craft and an un­known num­ber of Fly­ing Fortress bombers, said a For­eign Of­fice doc­u­ment.

Many of the planes came from North and Cen­tral Amer­ica. In par­tic­u­lar, Bri­tish of­fi­cials pointed to the ac­tiv­i­ties of a “bo­gus” Pana­ma­nian air­line, Lin­eas Aero de Panama, which they said was “known to be Jewish owned” and was fer­ry­ing Lock­heed Con­stel­la­tion and Cur­tis air­craft to Jewish forces in Pales­tine.

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